About a week ago, I got back from a retreat in Costa Rica. It was life-changing, as these things often are. I gained valuable personal insight and all that jazz. (If you want to read about it, check out my other blog.)
I worried a bit about keeping the peace alive when I got back here to yet another polar vortex, an inch-thick stack of student papers and a worryingly empty book at my practice. For a day or two. I had it all in hand. I meditated in my living room in the morning. I approached my classes with retreat-learned lessons from The Little Book of Talent. I even gave an earnest speech in my anatomy class about the beauty in variations of every human body, and how you should never apologize for your body. I was new, fearless, calm.
Then, life. Snarled traffic that made me late to class. The still-empty book. Three no-shows in one week. The protective calm layer froze away, and I was left raw, once again holding up my outward calm with inward trembling.
Today, though, I tutored L. L. failed her muscular anatomy test (one of the papers in that inch-high stack.) Her face showed disappointment, but with an outward calm I could see was supported by inward trembling. We broke down the spots that tripped her up. The difference between bilateral and unilateral actions. How to tell which attachment is the origin and which is the insertion. What the heck the levator scapula does, other than elevate the scapula. For over an hour, she focused intently on my questions and explanations. Answers came slowly at first, with hesitation, but she soon got more confident, and came up with a plan to study more at home.
Then, L. just started talking to me. She told me about how she felt embarrassed to ask questions sometimes, because other people might think she was stupid. She talked about watching her classmates get tests back with A’s while she would get an F. She talked about wanting this, knowing that she was meant to do this work, and she would do all the work it took to get there.
Somehow, through the force of her trust and determination, it all came back. The calm, new, fearless person I found on retreat. The person who knew – no, LIVED – what was important. I felt that person drape over me, and I settled into the warmth. I found the fearless place in my heart that got opened up, and I tried to guide L. to that place on her own heart. I saw a glimmer of it, and I trust that L. will protect that glimmer. She gave me a hug before she left, and smiled with something like joy.
And I took my new self into the world, ready to try again.